Moving Back Home in Your 20s: 7 Lessons You Learn From Returning To The Nest

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Editor’s note: Because one day just isn’t enough, Bustle will be posting essays every day this week about our mothers. Hey, it’s the least we can do. Happy Mother’s Week!

I am 27 years old, and I live at home with my mom. I know that these days, that's not wildly out of the ordinary. Thanks to the recession, the phenomenon of twentysomethings living at home has actually become quite common. But that doesn’t seem to ease the stigma around those of us who've found our way back to the coop

I flew out of mine when I went to college, but my wings were clipped when my dad passed away suddenly in 2012, while I was living in London. That brought me right back home.

Living at home as a grown-up is a challenge in and of itself — and, I'm sorry to say, it is nothing like Gilmore Girls. Living at home as an adult, especially while grieving, is a whole different can of worms. 

But I know that when all is said and done, I will be grateful for this time I've spent living with my mom. If only because I've learned these lessons, for good.

Patience is a Muscle

My sister praises me all the time for being patient with our mother. But patience, I have learned, is not something you're born with. It’s practiced on a daily basis; through breathing, listening, and shutting up my inner-narcissist.

Unlike roommates who've given me a hard time about how I stacked my bowls in the dish rack (true story), living with my mom means our habits have to somehow help our family function. And if they don't, you can bet we don't mince words.

My mother has known me since my wee little heart first started beating. So to her, most of my habits are nothing new. But her habits, on the other hand ... well, let's just say they took some time and patience for me to get used to.

As an Adult, you will sometimes feel like the parent

Over the last 18 months, I've often grumbled to myself and wondered, When did I become the parent? More often than not, this is a shift that happens for everyone. Some days, I actually have to hustle my mother out the door just so that she gets to work on time. In my frustration, I try to think how many times she must have done that for me. And then I get on with my day.

But it will always be okay to lean on your mom 

This is the first time in nearly a decade that I am depending on someone else to put a roof over my head and help me navigate the ever pressing question of what’s next. It’s been difficult for me to feel okay with that. But I’ve learned that accepting help — and not taking it for granted — is paramount. After all, it makes you a better giver when you're able to receive the love of others.

Unconditional love has unexpected benefits

I’ve heard more than once that true love is being able to love someone even when they bug the crap out of you. It's true — and as it turns out, loving your family that way helps you build that capacity for unconditional love in every other relationship in your life. (Bonus!)

And so...

I love my mom, even when she wakes me up at 6:30 in the morning by loudly clanging pots and pans around in the kitchen.

I love my mom, even when she tries to talk to me while I’m in the bathroom.

I love my mom, even when she does weird little dances in front of my friends.

I love my mom, even when she forwards me e-mails with hippie stress remedies.

I love my mom, even when she ignores my advice.

Sharing meals really is important

While living abroad, I was utterly spoiled by having a chef from New Zealand as a roommate. I learned to love cooking, because whenever Sam and I made food together, half of the joy simply came from sharing it. Now, I have the pleasure of sharing those meals with my mom.

One morning, during this past endless snowy winter, I awoke to a delicious smell. My mom and I both had work cancelled, so she had decided to make us banana and walnut pancakes. I mean, COME ON.

It's the Little Things that can Change someone's Day

There’s a secret touch that moms have that has yet to be decoded by science (how do they get those grilled cheeses the perfect level of gooey?).  I make my bed regularly, but sometimes I don’t get around to it. When I come home to see my mom has done it with a Home and Gardens-level of pillow arrangement and sheet tucking, I just know I am going to sleep well that night. In return, I try to do little things for her, too: At the very least, I remember to say “thank you” and “I love you” way, way more often.

you don't have to Suffer Sick Days Alone

Since living at home, my sick days have been met with every at-home remedy and over-the-counter concoction imagined. Now, I actually have someone who will listen to my pathetic whimpering when I’m bowled over with food poisoning, or laid-up with a fever that just won’t break.

After spending the majority of my twenties single, having someone to take care of me when I’m sick is a new, glorious part of my life that I know I'll miss dearly when I move out. 

I am so grateful to my mother for everything she’s done for me over these past 18 months. (Even if I now know more about her digestive system than I ever wanted to.) I have never felt so lost or so scared since my father’s passing. But I’ll be damned if I don’t feel lucky every single day that I have a mother, whose open arms and heart were there to take me in. And in turn, I opened mine to her. 

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